Cultural extravaganza marks Sangai Festival closing event

The Manipur Sangai Festival 2017 came to an end on Thursday with the closing ceremony held at Bhagyachandra Open Air Theatre (BOAT) with Manipur Governor Dr Najma Heptulla and chief minister N Biren as chief guest and president respectively.

Meghalaya Governor Ganga Prasad and deputy chief minister Y Joykumar were also present on the occasion as guests of honour.

Delivering the welcome address, chief secretary Rajani Ranjan Rashmi appreciated the contributions of Governor and chief minister of Manipur in acting as a source of inspiration and rendering love and care apart from adding several new dimensions to the festival in their own responsible ways. “Manipur will become a more happening place and the most attractive tourist destination in the entire North-East in the future”, he noted.

A choreographic presentation by N Amusana marked the closing cultural show of the festival.

Maintaining that Sangai Festival aims at capitalising on the precious assets of Manipur for promotion of tourism in the state, Governor Dr Najma Heptulla has said that the festival has succeeded in drawing attention and participation from far and wide by providing a wonderful platform to showcase various aspects of traditions and culture as well as generating interest in the handloom and handicraft products.

Dr Heptulla observed that the festival is something everyone looks forward to for an enriching and delightful experience of the rich culture and traditions of the state. It has come a long way since its inception and it is now recognised as a national event drawing attention and participation from far and wide including delegates from abroad.

Apart from its rich traditions and culture, Manipur is endowed with bountiful share of natural beauty like its serene hills, scenic landscapes, exotic flora and fauna for making it into a top tourism hub. The panoramic beauty of its valley and hill districts is enough to satisfy every tourist’s palate for nature, she said.

“The heady beauty of Siroy Hills is no less than the mesmerising beauty of Loktak Lake. A number of places in the state both in the valley and the hills have the potential to develop into popular tourism spots which can be looped into tourist circuits,” Dr Najma opined.

“The Act East Policy powered by the Central Government is also poised to open up new avenues for tourism. But the state is still far away from attaining the recognition it deserves. We must persist with our efforts for exploiting the full tourism potential of the state. It is in our hands, the state government and the people of Manipur to take the state forward,” she said.

In the context of the state’s economy, the Governor expressed her satisfaction on the successful conduct of the North East Development Summit as a part of the Sangai Festival. The Summit brought into sharper focus the various developmental activities which could be taken up in the state. It has been a very good initiative to promote investment in the state as the Summit concluded on a high note with signing of 39 MoUs, she contended.

This time, the festival has expanded to three separate venues simultaneously. There is always room for improvement and shortcomings noticed or encountered in the current festival and these should be noted and redressed in the festival next year to make it bigger and better, she said.

Meghalaya Governor Ganga Prasad said that Manipur is a blessed state with nature’s beauty. The Sangai Festival is providing a major platform to promote tourism as well as to showcase the state’s rich culture and tradition.

He further informed that a NE Governors’ meet held in New Delhi recently chaired by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj discussed key areas needed to be developed for successful implementation of the Act East Policy. Deputy chief minister Yumnam Joykumar contended that the objective of uniting the hills and valley was achieved in the festival. The huge response from the people of the state, apart from other parts of the country and the world, has shown the importance of the festival in bringing peace and development in the state, he said.

He also expressed his happiness over the fact that the festival provided a platform to promote handloom & handicraft products of the state as well as indigenous games of Manipur.

In his address, chief minister N Biren said that the increasing number of foreign tourists is a good sign for developing tourism sector of the state and it shows how the state is moving ahead. “This edition of the festival is proof of our consistent efforts towards establishing Manipur Tourism as a brand name on the tourism map of the world. Our endeavour in hosting the Festival at several venues was to showcase our cultural heritage, folk dances, indigenous cuisine, games and music, adventure sports and natural beauty of the state to all visitors in a way that they get to see the best of what Manipur has to offer over a 10-day long Festival” he said.

“We received a very encouraging response this year as well with record visitor arrival of over 50,000 a day. The participation of countries like Bhutan, Cambodia, Egypt, Haiti, Japan, Laos, Maldives, Myanmar, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Taiwan, Turkey, UAE and Zimbabwe has been a huge crowd puller this year,” he informed.

Unfortunately, a poacher was held for killing a Kharsa (hog deer) during the festival and people resorted to mob justice to destroy his house. Terming the incident as unfortunate, Biren called upon the people to refrain from mob justice and help the government in awarding befitting punishment as per the law of the land. Citing the hospitality and warm nature of the people of the state as the catalyst that made the summit fruitful, the CM urged for their continued support to the government to bring development in the state.

“The development of the Trans Asian Highway, opening of new railway lines and increased air connectivity which are in the pipeline will serve as a boon in realising our development dreams. I appeal to the people of Manipur to welcome these developments positively for the well-being of the state. And in doing so, we should know that tourism is the single industry which we can heavily rely on to boost our economy,” the CM said.

Biren further informed the gathering that the government will include Cherry Blossom festival and flower exhibition of Mao as part of Manipur Sangai Festival from the next edition.

He also called upon the people to bridge the gap between the hills and valley with renewed hopes in order to bring unity, development and peace in the state.

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